Exactly 73 years ago, Korea was known as a single entity. It may be hard to believe that if we fast-forward just a few generations, the country is now separated into north and south and lives a very different life. The reason for this is because in 1945, the United States took control of the Southern part of Korea and Russia took control of the Northern part. People on the south, like their colonizers, live a more liberal life. Whereas the northern government leads a more communist-inspired life.
First, let’s take a look at the mysterious North Korea, although there’s not much to begin with as they are very secretive. Tourists in North Korea have to pre book a tour, where a local will guide them the whole time. In addition, you would need to ask for the guide’s permission if you want to take a picture. Taking pictures of the workers, government sites, and such are forbidden. Education, healthcare, and housing is free. However, the quality of it would depend on your social and economic status. only the privileged are able to live in the capital city, Pyongdong. Officially, there are no taxes in North Korea. The country celebrates tax-free day on the first day of April. However, it still collects money from its citizens through hidden taxes from various sales taxes. Another fun fact is that people who wish to go to North Korea from South Korea would have to fly to China first. To add the quirkiness, North Korea does not use the same calendar as the rest of the world. Juche (the name of the calendar) begins with the birth of their first leader Kim Il Sung.
On the other hand, Tourists in South Korea are free to go wherever they want and do whatever they want as long as it is not against the law. Education, healthcare, and basically almost all living expenses are high (although it is of high quality). This is why people here tend to overwork. If there was a prize for the most stressed-out nation in the world, South Korea would make a good contender. It’s normal for people to do 12 hours of obligatory work. High school students go to school at 8 am and goes home at 10 pm, which is basically 13 hours of studying. This, in turn makes people in South Korea very stressed. South Korea is actually the only developed country making it in the top 10 rank for most suicides.
To conclude, even though they used to be one, North and South Korea is very different from one another in terms of lifestyles and politics. This is very interesting as the north and south are only separated with a fence.
Words by: Eva J
Header image credited to: modernise